On cloud nine, a project by preschool children
This was a long-term project undertaken by the Pre-schoolers and their educators in our Olari setting . The project not only helped children develop their knowledge of clouds, but the various activities undertaken to investigate this topic supported children’s holistic development. Furthermore, the process employed for investigating the topic, allowed the children to lead their learning experience.
The idea for the project was born, when one day while walking back from the park the children started a casual conversation on what images they could see in the clouds. The educators walking alongside the children, observed their excitement and listened carefully to what every child had to say. In fact the discussions continued well after the children reached the nursery.
The cloud provocation
Following children’s interest in the topic, the educators decided to set up a cloud provocation in one of the rooms, while the children were away at the gym. The educators made a big cloud using cloth and filled it up with lots of cotton balls and hung it up from the ceiling. (Picture if we can get it). Once the children returned they were very excited to see the huge cloud hanging and many interesting observations followed. The educators made careful notes of children’s valuable comments, as in each comment lay hidden an individual child’s view of the world.
A project takes shape
Many open ended discussions took place between the children and the educators. The children were allowed time to engage in sustained discussions about clouds. The educator’s acted as facilitators and allowed every child time to express their views and also consider the opinion of others.
Exploring clouds, a multimedia approach
Art – The children had lots of ideas about activities that could be done to make the project better. Expression through art was something that excited every child and children made use of great imagination and creativity as they used different materials and techniques to recreate clouds.(picture of children’s art work)
Internet – The children and educators also used the internet to look at pictures of clouds. Upon asking the children what they should type in the search, the educators recieved an enthusiastic reply ”funny clouds”. These search words gave out images of four different kinds of interesting looking clouds. Needless to mention, these images led to numerous discussions on the shapes of these clouds.
Exploring clouds through snow – Since winter brings a lot of snow to this part of the world, educators saw this as an opportunity to extend the exploration of clouds. Snow was brought from outside and placed on the exploration table. Children made their own linkages and started using snow to model clouds. (Picture)
Painting clouds outside – Research shows that children engage in more creative forms of play in the green areas. Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem solving and intellectual development (Kellert, 2005). Inspired by this, the educators and children took paint outside and poured it on snow to make lots of different clouds.
Racing clouds, a science activity – The idea for this activity was born when the children talked about how clouds move. Some children came up with the explanation that it could be wind. Reflecting upon the similarities between a cloud and cotton wool, the children started blowing the cotton. The educator set up a finish line on the table and the children blew the cotton wool all the way up to the finishing line. Their breath acted like wind and the cotton wool was imagined to be a cloud . (picture)
Cloud gazing – Children’s curiosity on clouds also led them outside to watch actual clouds in the sky. Dressed in their outdoor gear, the children lay in a circle looking at the sky and visualising different clouds. They sat on the table outside and used the charcoal to draw what they saw. (picture of drawings)
Throughout the project the children and educators reflected upon their learning together. Children’s voices and own theories about the world enriched the entire project experience and encouraged children to become independent thinkers.